Paralyzed Artist From WNY Paints Incredible Portraits of Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw
There are some painters who inspire through their work, and there are others who inspire through the finished product and the process it took to get there. Richard Masters of Webster, NY is paralyzed, but still paints phenomenal portraits. A country music lover through and through, he recently honored country stars Carrie Underwood and Tim McGraw with their own paintings.
Masters was five years old when he was involved in a car accident that severely stretched and twisted his spinal cord, according to Democrat and Chronicle. His mother, Lynn Masters, was told her son would not live, but he gradually progressed, astonishing everyone with the strides he took. He has no motion from his neck down, but after the accident, began painting by holding an 8-inch paintbrush in his mouth. It was a way to maintain flexibility in his neck. Now, he can move his head smoothly enough to bring portraits to life, adding expression in eyes and flow in hair simply by moving his head from side to side.
“Many times they told me to say goodbye to him,” his mother reveals. “They told me he would be a complete vegetable. And now look.” At 23 years old, Masters is an utter inspiration. His aunt, artist Deborah Sapienza, mixes the paint and holds the canvas for him, but Masters retains artistic control — even though he hasn’t taken a breath on his own for 18 years.
After graduating from high school, the young artist decided to combine his artistic talent with his love of country music, doing a portrait of singer McGraw, which he presented to the country star backstage at a concert last summer. It was a beautiful piece of artwork, and he recalls the ‘Highway Don’t Care’ hitmaker saying, “Wow, you made me look better than I look now.”
Masters told the singer, “You get to do music; I get to do portraits.”
The inspiring young man also painted Underwood, whose music has deeply touched his life. In fact, he often listens to ‘Jesus Take the Wheel’ while painting in the basement, and proudly wears a t-shirt donning the songstress. He met the beautiful blonde backstage as well, and sat front row at her concert in Buffalo in March, where she thanked him from the stage.
“She was just blown away by it,” he says — perhaps wittily alluding to the signature song on her album.
It’s been a tough road for Masters, but he’s not giving up. “All the lousy stuff I’ve been through — it’s a lot for me to take on sometimes. But I try to make everybody laugh. I try not to be a crabby person,” he shares.